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NASA's Kepler space telescope spots 219 new potential planets

24 Juin 2017

NASA's telescope Kepler that was created to search for planets has found a total of 10 new, possibly inhabitable planets, with the right size and temperatures that could imply that there might be other life present. The habitable zone is the distance in a solar system that allows liquid water to exist on the planets within.

How does Kepler space telescope find new planets? It is also the definitive catalog of the constellation Cygnus - The Swan - from the point of view of the space telescope.

NASA unveiled its most comprehensive findings from its Kepler space telescope mission Monday, including the discovery of 219 new exoplanets, 10 of which are similar in size to Earth and could potentially have life. The scientists discovered that the planets that are nearly the size of the Earth or smaller are usually rocky while those that are bigger than the Earth tend to be gas-formed like Neptune.

"This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and lead author of the catalog study. Of those, 2,335 have been confirmed to be exoplanets. Among the 50-near-Earth-size habitable zone candidates, there were 30 that have been verified. Most of the starts discovered are thousands of light years away making it nearly impossible for humans to reach them at this point. This will in turn increase the chances of ascertaining the possibility of life on other planets.

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To detect new potential planet candidates, the Kepler space telescope uses the so-called "transit method".

Researchers suspect that there may be countless Earth-like planets which are waiting to be found. Kepler only covered 0.25% of the night sky and we need 400 Keplers to cover the whole sky.

Perez further added that understanding the frequency of these planets in the galaxy will in turn help form the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth.

So far, these planets, which scientists refer to as "super-Earths" and "mini-Neptunes", have not been found in Earth's solar system, though scientists are on the hunt for a potential ninth planet far beyond Pluto. "Finding two distinct groups of exoplanets is like discovering mammals and lizards make up distinct branches of a family tree".

NASA's Kepler space telescope spots 219 new potential planets